Standardized tests can strike fear in the heart of any man – young and old, but ever wonder why? It seems odd that a few questions that require a pencil dot on a Scantron Sheet, can bring forth such stress and emotion. This is especially true for visual-spatial learners whose test results don’t reflect their true intelligence or ability.
Testing is designed with a left-brain bias. Linear-thinkers with good short-term memory and deductive thinking skills are much more likely to score well on standardized tests, because they measure the way the left side of the brain works, leaving our right-brain kids at a significant disadvantage.
What is it about taking tests that’s so challenging for our visual-spatial kids?
There are no pictures on tests – Visual learners need to see when they think. Tests are short on pictures and heavy on language, which puts visual learners at a distinct disadvantage come test time.
There’s not enough time – Visual thinkers have to do a lot of extra work to translate test questions into pictures, put questions into context and adapt to linear thinking test taking requires. When tests are timed there is a tremendous amount of added pressure and not enough time to translate.
Too many choices – It’s natural for the right side of our brain to see lots of possibilities. So when a test requires us to choose one answer from a short list of possibilities – it’s not good for the right side of us.
Cramming just doesn’t stick – Too often, testing is focused on memorization and short-term memory work – great for the left side of the brain, the right side – not so much. The right brain needs to understand context and concept to decide how to organize and store information. So when a right-brainer has to cram for a test- it doesn’t stick.
There are ways to help your child prepare for the standardized testing season. Look back to my Study Tips for ways you can help your child achieve increased success. But as important as test scores are – your child is not their test score.